Waiting to start mental health therapy while a child is experiencing difficulties is tough on the family and the child. You can show your support and care through continued conversations with your child. Check in with how they’re feeling and ask them how they think you can help. Validate their emotions and answer any questions they may have openly and honestly. We have more guidance on how to talk to children about their mental health.

  1. Connect with others. Think about who you want to share with. Who are the people that can help support your child and your family at this time? For older children, include them on this decision. Talk with them about who they feel comfortable with you talking to and how much they are okay with you sharing. You may want to talk with:
    1. School staff, if your child’s symptoms are getting in the way of school success.
    2. Your child’s pediatrician for support in managing symptoms or linking to community resources.
    3. Family members or friends you know your child trusts talking to or enjoys spending time with.
  2. Set routines and structures. During this time of waiting for support, your whole family may be feeling high stress and strong emotions. Routines and schedules help us know what to expect, which makes us feel more in control and less stressed.
    1. Try to keep a similar schedule from day to day (for example: same bedtime, wake up, school, and relaxation times) and keep the same routines and expectations for your child. Although it may feel tempting to accommodate or make some changes, for example allowing them to stay home from school, we do not want to cause disruption and even more changes for them to cope with.
    2. Make sure these routines and structures include enough sleep and physical activity – we cannot be mentally healthy if our bodies are not physically healthy.
  3. Start trying new skills now. You don’t have to wait for therapy to start to try new things that may improve their mental health. We have recommendations you can start at home now.
  4. Take care of yourself. You cannot help your child if you are not doing well yourself. Find even just a few minutes a day to do something for yourself. Reach out to your family and social network for support.

If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, contact the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988, or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.